Reaching the unreachable – what’s next for the world’s wealthy? 

This week saw the first in a new programme at Walpole for 2018 which focuses on high and ultra high-net-worth customers. 

Endlessly fascinating, notoriously private and hard to reach these customers are key to luxury businesses, but what new themes are emerging and what are the fundamentals in reaching the unreachable? These questions kick-started the discussion at a dinner at the Rosewood London on Wednesday 17th January co-hosted by Walpole, the Rosewood London and Hamptons Wealth Partnership.

The London prime property market was up for discussion first, with the latest report from Hamptons Wealth Partnership forming the basis for the conversation. The report looks at the continuing global dominance of the London prime property market where prices have increased by 116% in the most exclusive areas over the last 10 years. Despite the challenging political climate the research clearly evidenced the long-term investment appeal of London. This is a trend that is only set to continue: lifestyle, personal security, the education system and healthcare rated highest as the driving factors in property acquisition for UHNWIs. Additionally, Forbes rated the UK as the number-one place for business (despite concerns over the implications of Brexit), ranking London well above fellow luxury grand dames of New York and Paris.

But who is buying the property? Over 50% of the purchases are made by international UHNWIs from the US, China and the Middle East eager to have primary or secondary residences in the UK. Interestingly the appeal isn’t just about the property it is also the global respect for British interior designers who continue to lead in innovation, creativity, design and quality.

Conversation moved on to the the pursuit of youth: health, wellbeing and the term, coined by WGSN, “Wellthness”.  Recent trends include bespoke DNA-based cosmetics, cryotherapy, air purification, must-have gyms and wellness suites on yachts. The convergence of technology and medicine is a theme we will continue to see in the UHNW space as they continue to pursue the one thing money cannot buy: time.  A fascinating example was an iron-man style external ribcage that McLaren engineered  for one of their clients with a lung issue.

What’s important? For UHNWIs time with family and the pursuit of amazing experiences remain a priority. They create time for their families to be together, staying longer on-board yachts, taking bespoke journeys and filling this time with experiences based around their families’ interests: be this a computer game themed trip around Asia, a cupcake master class with a world renowned pâtissier, racing cars on ice in Finland or a private view at the Uffizi in Florence. But experiences can also be the  more humble things, eating the best bread for example – a daily pleasure that unites all. The human touch remains important and UHNWIs value being able to meet like mind individuals through the experiences brands create.

 Reaching the unreachable: with extreme wealth comes a need for privacy, so being able to reach these customers and build relationships with them takes time. Themes that emerged were the importance of building trust, helping to solve problems, intuitive service – knowing when to offer help and when to let a customer take their time to consider an investment or purchase. Resoundingly key was the importance of personal relationships – understanding each customer as individual and listening to what the really need, truly taking the time to offer a completely bespoke service. If you do all those you create a trusted relationship for life.